Montréal Métro

I read a short verse this morning that flipped my mind back to our days in Montréal and how many times we rode the métro across the city. My nostalgic journey has inspired me to write the following verses as a tribute:

Montreal métro
a swift whistle to the chaos
of Berri-UCAM

middle subway car
the first one on wakes up
at the end of the line

fruitful trip
to the Jean-Talon Market
squashed on the ride home

Montréal métro
all trains stop — riders whisper
another sad exit?

Montréal métro
“merci d’avoir voyagé”
lingering ear worm

The Project

I’ve decided to try the 50 Word Thursday Challenge #31, offered this week at Tales from the mind of Kristian.

You are to write a picture to go with the following image. Your story must be between 50 and 250 words, in 50 word increments. (so 50, 100, 150, 200 or 250 words). Mine is exactly 200. And you must use the following line in your story:
“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book




“Can’t you just see it?”

“Nope. Nope. Never.”

“Hey, where’s your fighting spirit? This site would be perfect.”

“Do you have any idea how much opposition we’d face?”

“It may not be as bad as you think. Listen, Ashton, if you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”

“And moving all these graves… We can’t just pave over them. The descendants will howl.”

“I don’t know about that. People are tired of this old mess — they’d be delighted to see something attractive. We’ll set the stones along one edge and this can be the new Fifth Street Park.”

“Well, that’s one option… And the church would be easy enough to knock down. Someone’ll be delighted to salvage the beams and windows.”

“Now you’re talking. I’m positive that if we offer the City Council a high-rise hotel here, stressing the revenue potential, and throw the promise of a park, they’ll get on board.”

“Okay. I’ll draw up a plan and get an architect’s rendering to present. But you’re the spokesman for this project, Lance. You deal with hostile descendants, reporters, and feisty seniors from the Historic Preservation Society threatening us with their brollies.”

Living Up High

I can’t remember the writing prompt for which I wrote this little tale; maybe an exercise in dialogue or a story about city living. But I did it awhile ago for The Write Practice and now I’ll reprint it here.


Pigeons overlook park.jpg“Back again, Flutter.” Grayson made a wide loop and landed beside his mate. “The place looks good so far, though I’d be quite happy if they’d stop right now. It’s a comfortable height for us; if they go much higher we won’t be able to sit on the roof at all.”

Flutter murmured her disapproval. “These humans seem to have gone mad with wanting to hover up in the clouds. It’s ridiculous. Give me a nice twelve-storey building any day.”

The two of them sat on the balcony rail of the hotel at the corner of Franklin Street and watched the crane lifting up even more steel girders for the new apartment building going up a few blocks away.

“It’s going to be a dandy when it’s done,” said Grayson. “I’ve put our name in for a light fixture on the eleventh floor. As you say, no point trying for a penthouse. It does looks like this is another one that’s going up into the clouds. We’d be dizzy all day long looking down from that height.”

“And the danger to our fledglings being blown off a roof that high.”

“I was along with several others on this reconnaissance flight. We especially checked out those fancy outside floodlight fixtures. They’re just the ticket, dear. Far enough from the wall to build our nests behind and they’ll keep our toes warm in winter. Hope these humans don’t get some silly notion about shutting the lights off at night.”

Flutter bobbed her head up and down. “The location couldn’t be better! Right next to the park. But I sure wish that old man would come again. You know, the one who always filled his jacket pockets with birdseed and encouraged us sit on his shoulders to eat it.

Feeding pigeons.jpgGrayson agreed. “I do miss him. Walking breakfast bar, he was. I wonder why he never comes anymore? Well, anyway, there are always kiddies dropping their bags of popcorn.
“I just wish we lived father away from those dratted peregrines. Since they’ve taken over the roof of the Delta Inn life has been a constant struggle for survival for downtown pigeons.”

“Let’s not even think about them.” Flutter shuddered. They’d already lost a number of relatives to peregrine falcon attacks.

“Bloodthirsty birds,” Grayson squawked. “Wish the airplanes flying over would take every last one of them out.”

He rubbed Flutter’s cheek with his own. “I do think we’re going to be quite cozy in our new digs. And it’s always interesting to watch the traffic below. We’ll just have to be sure and get a sheltered spot to build our nest.” They were both quiet a moment remembering the high winds that blew their nest away last year, grieving for the four almost-hatched eggs they lost.

In spite of the nice tall buildings humans were constantly erecting for them, living downtown was always perilous.

A Classic Bait-and-Switch

Caveate Emptor
(Let the Buyer Beware)

I included this bit of wisdom in a post to Judy Dykstra brown and she was so thrilled to learn a new expression she even wrote a post on the topic. 🙂 Click here to read it.

Her reply jogged my memory. I recall an experience I had on this one myself years ago, when we were living in Montréal. And since today’s Word Press prompt word is infuse, I’ll use this example of a time where I was infused with righteous indignation.

One fine summer day…

He was standing at the entry to one of Montréal’s métro stations. Early thirties, I’d guess, rather shabby in appearance — hardly your ‘up-and-coming enterpreneur’ look — with a small bouquet of flowers in his outstretched hand. “Pretty flowers. Two dollars,” he called to the mass of people passing. The crowd, hurrying to catch the trains, ignored him.

I was part of this human tide flowing into the subway entrance, but when I saw him I paused. Yes, the flowers were pretty, neatly wrapped and ready to go. Plus he really looked like he could use the money, so I opened my purse.

When he saw me step closer and start fishing for the money, he held out the flowers so I could get a good look at them. The bouquet, which even included a rose, was colourful and fresh as a daisy. “Just two dollars,” he repeated.

He took the coin I handed him and I reached for the bouquet — but he was quick. Pulling back the flowers in his one hand, with the other he scooped up a similar bouquet from a bucket beside him, wrapped so you could just see the flowers, and held it out to me. The flowers appeared identical so I grabbed it, nodded my thanks and joined the crowd headed for the trains.

After I took my seat on the subway car I took a closer look at my purchase. Oh.

This bouquet’s best-before date passed yesterday — or the day before. The outer rose petals were withered; the mum blooms were fringed with a bit of brown; the greenery appeared a little wilted. NOT just like the one he was holding out for inspection.

As I thought about the switch he’d pulled I was infused with indignation. What a rotten trick! And a sense of injustice. The man’s dishonest — a cheat! Wounded pride. I’ve been had! Okay, it was only $2, but still… And embarrassment. I should have been watching. I should have protested when I saw him make the switch.

By the time I’d arrived back at the house, I’d decided to let it go. If he was a cheat, it would be on his conscience; I wasn’t going to lose sleep over it. I’d cut my losses — along with the flower stems — and move on.

I trimmed the stems right away, stuck the flowers in warm water and revived those I could. The mums and greenery perked up well for a few more days; the rose was too far gone. And after all, I’d only lost $2. Not worth grinding my teeth about.

I chalked it up to a relatively cheap lesson in life. Economics 101: o caveat emptor!